While the local, provincial, and federal Canadian police break up the 22-day protest by the truckers, aka, the Freedom Convoy, it must be remembered, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” The Freedom Convoy is in the opening moments of a long struggle against Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau, a man so obsessed with power that he views peaceful resistance as a terrorists’ plot to overthrow “his” government, not the people’s government. By imposing the Emergencies Act, the most powerful weapon in Canada’s arsenal, Trudeau, without providing due process, sets out to destroy the lives of citizens by ensuring they can never work again or support their families.
Martin Luther King employed peaceful resistance for decades against unjust, racist laws, in the U.S to gain equality for minorities. He changed the face of the United States forever. Mahatma Gandhi took a 240-mile, peaceful walk from his village to the sea to secure salt for his people. Now the Freedom Convoy, a group of ordinary people, fed up with years of social restrictions and vaccine mandates, follow in the footsteps of King and Gandhi.
Leaders try to unify a nation, tyrants divide it. Trudeau spills his hate across Canada. Trudeau told parliament the Freedom Convoy is “very often misogynistic, racist, women-haters, science-deniers, the fringe” and that “Conservative Party members [who support the protests] … stand with people who wave swastikas, they can stand with people who wave the Confederate flag.” How can a leader of a “free nation” have such disdain for its citizens?
Trudeau’s beliefs and actions are opposed by the premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec.
The philosopher George Santayana noted, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Trudeau’s use of the Emergencies Act is a repeat performance of the arbitrary actions of the British Empire when it forbade the Indian population to manufacture or sell salt. It forced the poor of India to buy salt at a high cost from British merchants. Salt is essential to the human body’s survival since it conducts nerve impulses, contracts and relaxes mussels, and provides for the proper balance of water and minerals.
Gandhi viewed the Salt Laws as an “inexcusable evil” and an example of how rulers arbitrarily impose their will on all aspects of human life. To challenge such laws, Gandhi walked to the sea to harvest salt from the beaches. As he walked, thousands followed. When he arrived at the sea he found a lump of salt-rich mud and announced “I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.” For weeks afterward his supporters boiled water to make salt and others sold it illegally.
Within a month Gandhi was arrested. His peaceful followers, however, ignored police warnings to stop making salt. The police rushed the protesters. The journalist, Webb Miller, described the police as raining: “blows on their heads…Not one of the marchers even raised an arm to fend off the blows. They went down like ten-pins.” British authorities arrested 60,000 people.
While Gandhi was imprisoned for defying British law, the British suffered worldwide denunciation and humiliation for its brutal actions. Great Britain eventually had to negotiate with Gandhi.
The Canadian police were restrained, mindful of the worldwide press. In the 21st century, the government knows very well it does not have to beat people bloody in front of cameras to destroy their lives. The government needs only make laws so unjust and lacking in due process, that people cannot defend themselves.
To prove his power, Prime Minister Trudeau invoked the 1988 Emergencies Act, claiming the protest is an illegal blockade endangering public safety. The Act is to be used in situations that “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians.” The types of situations it is to address include espionage, foreign influence activities, serious threats of political violence, or acts intended to undermine or overthrow a constitutionally established government. None of these situations apply to peaceful protests whose offense is blocking streets and making noise.
The Emergencies Act allows the government to force banks to freeze the social media accounts that collect money to support the protesters, freeze the bank accounts of the protesters, seize their  trucks, revoke their driver’s licenses, deny them insurance on their trucks, and of imprisoning them for years. It also authorizes the government to deny citizens the right to assemble and prohibit travel in certain areas of the country. By cutting off the truckers’ ability to make a living, Trudeau is executing their ability to live a normal life. Until a few days ago, no Canadian prime minister, in the thirty-four years since its enactment, invoked the Emergencies Act. But now Trudeau finds peaceful resistance to be so extreme as to be a threat to the state.
Before these peaceful resistance protests occurred, few people would associate the right to collect salt and the right to oppose vaccine mandates as causes igniting national struggles. Most leaders of democracy would never consider denying its citizens free access to an essential mineral, needed for life, such as salt. Likewise in a democracy, leaders respect that citizens have a right to free speech and make personal health decisions based on the advice of their doctor, not political mandates. Yet, in the same English family, Great Britain and Canada, two powerful nations have had leaders so obsessed with having power over people that they imposed their arbitrary will on the most essential aspects of human life.
Paraphrasing Oliver Cromwell’s 1653 speech to the Rump Parliament: Trudeau – In the name of God, go!
William L. Kovacs has served as senior vice-president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, chief-counsel to a congressional committee, a partner in law D.C. law firms, and his book Reform the Kakistocracy is the winner of the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change.